During my regular perusal of the NBA “trade press” over the All-Star break, I noticed a great deal of speculation about which players will capture this season’s awards. The last Toronto Raptor to win a major personal trophy was some Carter guy [Rookie of the Year in '98-'99].
Do any of our group deserve consideration? Let’s walk through each award:
Most Valuable Player: um…no. LeBron and Kevin Durant will get all the votes, deservedly. There might be some Indiana “homers” who will talk up Paul George, but it’s really a two-horse race.
Rookie of the Year: We have no one eligible. Michael Carter-Williams of Philly and Orlando’s Victor Oladipo are the two favourites.
Defensive Player of the Year: I wouldn’t be surprised if Terrence Ross develops into a contender for this honour in the future. This year, it’s Pacers centre Roy Hibbert’s to lose, with OKC’s Serge Ibaka coming second.
Most Improved Player: DeMar DeRozan is getting some love here, but probably not enough to push him into serious contention. Indiana’s Lance Stephenson will likely win, and the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis will get some votes.
Sixth Man of the Year: We don’t have a game-changer off the bench. Somebody like Jamal Crawford of the Clippers or the ageless Manu Ginobili will likely take this one home. I’ve seen Taj Gibson of the Bulls mentioned. He won’t win, but deserves some votes. Is it crazy to think Patrick Patterson could be in the mix one day?
Let’s turn to the suits’ awards.
Coach of the Year: I think Dwane Casey has to be given some consideration if the Raps grab the Atlantic Division title. At the moment, the press has crushes on Jeff Hornacek (Suns) and Terry Stotts (Blazers), with Tom Thibodeau (Bulls) as a dark horse. All three of these teams would have to fall off the pace for our man to have a chance.
Executive of the Year: Portland’s Neil Olshey is the front-runner, with Phoenix’s Ryan McDonough also in the mix.
Masai Ujiri won this prize last year in Denver, and it’s highly unlikely the voters would elect him back to back. However, he’s steered the Good Ship Raptor impeccably so far. In particular, the Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay trades were highly positive. Masai also deserves credit for what he didn’t do, namely tearing apart the team in the name of rebuilding.
Sadly, Toronto players and executives are rarely mentioned by the U.S. press. I suspect, Raps fans, we’ll be trophyless once again.